Charging for MU* Code?



  • Okay, I'm opening myself up to a lot of comments and I know this, and I'm going to try and keep my fragile ego in check:

    How much should I charge to code for a game I'm not volunteering for?

    The Mechanipus Exodus is almost over, and I have done more volunteer work in the last three weeks than I have for any single game in the same period of time, and I know that a lot of other people have done the same in their time.

    I don't want to not help games set up or fix issues, but I want to reclaim some of my time. Starting to charge real money seems like one of the only recourses besides a straight up "no" which I am well aware is always on the table.

    I jokingly gave someone this list, then I thought that it's not that bad of a jumping-off point. Is this ridiculous? How could this be tweaked? Thanks ahead of time, everyone:

    Game setup from scratch: $20
    CofD Core installation: $50
    Each additional sphere or major book already coded: $20
    Major code debugging and house-rules tweaking: about $20/hr.
    Minor code debugging and house-rules tweaking: Probably free
    Pointers, Tips, and Advice to anyone who wants to do this on their own: Always free
    
    Major project not listed here (new book/rules): $50-$150
    Minor project not listed here (new book/rules, fun new system): $20-$50
    Bug-fixing of something I did: Free, because yeah, it's mine right?
    
    Time taken to do this: I will try to meet your requirements, but my schedule is my own. That said, try not to pay me before something is done or with this understanding.
    

    I personally would never use these as non-negotionable, especially if I streamline the installations to a point where I could get the entire CofD core gameline books in at one go, but I feel that my time is worth more than trying to get all of this done on my days off instead of, e.g. RPing, but I've hit a wall and can't think of other options.

    Thanks for reading.

    --

    edit:

    After everybody's amazing input, I'm settling right now on the above information.

    I have tweaked a few of the prices, mostly having to do what falls into what category.

    I have a Google Wallet at my expected email address: thenomain@gmail.com

    While tips are welcome, I will feel very self-conscious if you don't tell me specifically what it's for.

    Thanks to everyone in this hobby who cares about this hobby.



  • Would you take payments? >.>



  • @taika

    Not until I'm comfortable with the prices, and like many people who are doing something because they love doing it, taking payments feels like a betrayal to those who also love the hobby.



  • @thenomain This topic is actually something of a relief to me because I know there are some things I will want to ask you about in the future, and 'would be willing to send $ for help' was something I wanted to ask about.

    (And since the stuff I wanna do is more custom, I... would be looking at higher numbers than that or multiple instances of such I think on the whole 'cause... yeah.)

    Long story short, I don't find this unreasonable at all.


  • Pitcrew

    I find that list totally reasonable and, in fact, very generous.



  • Makes sense! I've already had thoughts of 'I should give him cookies or a gift card or something', cause I know you've blown a fair bit of the last couple weeks on tdm. And I wouldn't have any problem paying for, say, the territory code that I /want/ but don't have to have.

    There's definitely a balance between hobby, work, free time, and finding ways to make it all work that I can definitely appreciate.



  • @thenomain

    How about something like "major project coding"? Because there are things that I'd like to have built from scratch (which you can use elsewhere), and your pricing structure doesn't take that into account.


  • Pitcrew

    Honestly, I think you should double your prices aside from the $20/hour for debugging.

    That said can you give an idea of the amount of hours related to each of the projects?



  • @ganymede said in Charging for MU* Code?:

    @thenomain

    How about something like "major project coding"? Because there are things that I'd like to have built from scratch (which you can use elsewhere), and your pricing structure doesn't take that into account.

    The question of what is major and what is minor is not something I can easily define.

    For example: Most CoD splats are minor, except for Hurt Locker. I should re-think $20 for a major game line's core book; I still haven't finished the fine-tuning of Demon and it's one of my favorites. Even Mage was a big project.

    On the other hand, the entirety of your Mass Effect game system would be a single Major Project to me, plus I'd do it in Ares or Evennia so I'd be slow as hell while learning a new platform.

    I think it's up to each artist to quote their own prices, but very important for artists to get a feeling for them and find commonality with one another.

    That said, here are my thoughts:

    Major project (coding Promethean): $50-150
    Minor project (coding an inventory system): $20-50
    Tweaking of a major project: $20-50
    Tweaking of a minor project: Beer & Pizza
    Code advice on any of the above: Cookies
    

    The last two are not me undermining anything, but I love working with people toward a goal and also love teaching. Not enough to become a teacher, because of the usual lack of the former.



  • Double Post Action Supreme.

    @sunny said in Charging for MU* Code?:

    Honestly, I think you should double your prices aside from the $20/hour for debugging.

    Did I mention my love of this hobby plus easily triggered guilt? You are almost certainly right, though.

    That said can you give an idea of the amount of hours related to each of the projects?

    • Setting up a new Mux server: About an hour or two, really. This doesn't include softcode or anything, except for default SGP code. I'm waiting for @Ashen-Shugar to come by and kindly chide me for thinking about charging for this because he can do this in his sleep and probably has. I am a junior sysadmin at best, but I often say "I need SQL compiled" and get "how do I do that?" in return so have tended to need to do the compiling myself lately.

    • Core Chronicles of Darkness setup: About 3-5 hours? There's a lot of stuff in there that I haven't streamlined yet, but I've been working on it in some form or another for almost four years now. I've tried to make it possible for anyone with light Mu*code knowhow to be able to get a good handle on it. The hardest part of this is that I haven't generalized the XP earnings system, because each game is going to do this differently.

    • Coded game-line setup: About an hour or so. Each time I do it I find a bug, and there are cases of game-line overlap where it needs to be set manually, like who the staff wants to be able to take some mortal/ghoul merits.

    • Un-coded game-line setup: This I have vastly undervalued; see above post. Uncoded splats for a coded game-line shouldn't take long (several days; Hurt Locker nonwithstanding), but a completely new game-line will take weeks.

    How's that?


  • Pitcrew

    @thenomain

    That's very helpful. Very helpful!

    I'd go $40 for game setup, $50 for your core setup, and then maybe you could get away with $20 for the already-coded-per-game-line stuff, though really I'd say $30-50 for that, too.

    Other prices are more in the realm of...well, none of this is reasonable industry wise, but something generally affordable for the hobby that you shouldn't feel impossibly guilty about charging?

    tl;dr just charge moooooooooooore


  • Pitcrew

    I'm all for this. I've offered to pay you before, and I think that we might get better/more interesting games if we stop limiting the pool of game creators to those who can code or have friends who can. It keeps the pool artificially stunted and incestuous. Go for it.



  • I would suggest setting up a Paetreon with different tiers. That way, if someone wants to tip you randomly for all the awesome work you've done over the years, they can.



  • ...you mean people would offer goods and services for server-side management?



  • I just wouldn't accept pay for mushing. I've been offered it, many a times, but I always turn it down. For a few reasons.

    1. Taking money for coding on a mush is akin to getting paid for what you do as a recreation. It has the horrible added curse of turning what you would normally find enjoyment into a job, which sorry, I already do 8 hours a day, and likely at a far more significant amount than anyone would ever be willing to pay for mush code.

    2. Taking money for mush code means I'm now on a timer and a deadline. This takes away time from potential real life work, and much more important time away from my family and loved ones.

    3. I would charge a ridiculous amount for any conflict away from my real life work. And as I believe my family is a ridiculous level more important to me than my job, imagine what I charge for taking time away from my family?

    In a nutshell, I don't charge for mushing because frankly no one can afford me, and those that think they can, please use the money on something else, like a vacation.



  • @thenomain The average rate for a seasoned programmer is about $50/hour IIRC, so it would not be unreasonable to charge anything up to that value.

    Of course, those kind of rates would likely be beyond the budget of what most folks would be willing to pay for a hobby project. $1000 for a custom chargen anyone? Heh.

    Which brings us back to the age-old debate about "fair value" vs "what the person can afford value" that tends to devolve into flame wars whenever people ask for people to work for below-market rates on hobby art or writing projects.

    Which just leads me to say, in all seriousness (but probably not very helpfully): Charge whatever your time is worth to you.


  • Pitcrew

    @faraday said in Charging for MU* Code?:

    @thenomain The average rate for a seasoned programmer is about $50/hour IIRC, so it would not be unreasonable to charge anything up to that value.

    Of course, those kind of rates would likely be beyond the budget of what most folks would be willing to pay for a hobby project. $1000 for a custom chargen anyone? Heh.

    Which brings us back to the age-old debate about "fair value" vs "what the person can afford value" that tends to devolve into flame wars whenever people ask for people to work for below-market rates on hobby art or writing projects.

    Which just leads me to say, in all seriousness (but probably not very helpfully): Charge whatever your time is worth to you.

    Before anyone starts one of said flame wars about hobby charging here, please just go to the mud connector and have at it there. I mean, it's all been said to death, but you're welcome to rehash it.

    I think I've got a dead horse around here somewhere.



  • I wouldn't charge, because I am not that good of a programmer yet. I can do a lot, but I can't do everything (shakes a fist at +sheet code, formatting code can eat me). If I get to the point where I can do everything? I'd still not charge as much as Theno is listing, because I am /not that good/ I don't think it's unreasonable to charge what Theno is contemplating though, not even remotely.


  • Pitcrew

    As someone who has volunteered endless hours to other people in the form of coding, code base prepping, wiki setting up, and all that I don't find these prices unreasonable at all. I think it may also help weed out the people who are hopeful with good intentions but don't really have the follow through in them to actually open a game leaving only those who have a genuine interest in getting something legit off the ground. So +1 from me.



  • Those prices seem low to me. That said, I don't claim to be able to properly judge the 'market' value for code work when the 'market' is a niche hobby like this. On one hand @Thenomain offers a rare skill (how many in the world knows mushcode+mushes+mush-common-rpgs well enough to offer this menu of services in the first place?), on the other hand is the question as to what people are willing to pay to progress their hobby. This is a very old discussion. There will always be people with more dreams than means. But my impression at least is that most in this hobby appear to be adults that should be both able and willing to pay properly to have a human spend time to customize or even make a game for them. Especially when it's so open for learning to do yourself.

    That said, as @Ashen-Shugar also hints at, I'd personally feel pressured if I charged money per Evennia-project/feature/bugfix whatever. It'd take some of the enjoyment out of working on these things, for me -make it feel more like work. After being asked about it from time to time, I solved it by setting up Patreon/paypal with the possibility of donations but with no tiers or recompense: That is, if you want to tip me for my work with Evennia, it's highly appreciated. But I treat it as a donation - you don't have to do it and I promise nothing explicit in return except that I'll keep doing what I've been doing. Does it cover the time I put in, in a 'market' sense? Not by a long shot. Maybe using tiers etc would draw in more money in pure numbers. But the non-specificity of it works fine for me and that freedom is worth a lot in itself.


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